Mystery Queen: Episode 16 (Final)
There’s a reason that everyone kept trying to warn Seol-ok and Wan-seung away from getting to the bottom of the murders of their loved ones — it presents a very real danger to both of them. Nevertheless, giving up isn’t in the blood of our trusty detective duo, and they’re determined to extract the truth and arrest the real culprits, no matter what.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
A gunshot rings out, and Wan-seung watches in horror as Seol-ok crumples to the floor. He rushes to her side, cradling her in his arms, but in her barely conscious state, Seol-ok urges Wan-seung to go after Detective Go. Wan-seung looks up to see Detective Go scrambling away, but that couldn’t matter less to Wan-seung at this point — all he wants is for Seol-ok to be okay.
In the ambulance, Wan-seung begs an unconscious Seol-ok to have strength, as he himself is on the verge of tears. They arrive at the hospital, where Seol-ok’s family is waiting — Kyung-suk wails to see her daughter-in-law on the stretcher, and Ho-chul desperately asks for the doctors to tell them that it’s not a serious injury.
Ho-chul spots Wan-seung outside and immediately rushes over to confront him, grabbing Wan-seung by the lapels and asking him what happened to Seol-ok. Wan-seung murmurs an apology, but an infuriated Ho-chul demands to know if he expects an apology to resolve this issue. Only when Ho-soon yells to Ho-chul that Kyung-suk is about to faint does Ho-chul release his hold on Wan-seung to attend to more urgent matters.
At CEO Ha’s manor, Wan-seung meets with his father per their agreement, and CEO Ha comments that it’s a relief that Wan-seung is back to his “proper” position. Wan-seung doesn’t say anything in response to that, but just asks his father what really happened to Hyun-soo. Wan-seung explains that he’s waited seventeen years for her, and he just wants to know what happened to her.
Giving him a look of disapproval, CEO Ha tells Wan-seung that he’s sick of discussing this topic. He adds that even if Wan-seung were to find out the truth, the statute of limitations has expired anyway, and Wan-seung recognizes that he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
In the hospital, the doctors are operating on Seol-ok as her friends and family members wait outside the ICU. When the head surgeon comes out, Kyung-suk asks if Seol-ok’s over the worst stage, but he just tells her that they’ll have to wait and see.
Later, Wan-seung sits at Seol-ok’s bedside and tenderly talks to her as she sleeps, telling her that he’s not staring because he likes her, but because this will be the last time he sees her. He says he doesn’t care about finding the culprit anymore — he just wants her to get better, though he’s sorry for not solving her parents’ murder case like he promised. Wan-seung gets up to leave, and takes one last look at Seol-ok, telling her to live well.
The next morning, various members of Seol-ok’s family and friends come to visit her, but she only wants to see one person: Wan-seung. Kwang-tae tells her that Wan-seung’s been busy lately, adding that even he hasn’t been able to reach Wan-seung, and Seol-ok just stares listlessly into space before falling asleep once more.
The scene transitions to Wan-seung in his new life as he exercises madly. Wearing a business suit, he attends work like a proper company director, and even Ji-won notes how hard he’s working. Wan-seung explains that he realized he needed power in order to protect what he loves.
Meanwhile, it looks like Seol-ok’s recovered just fine from the gunshot, and she’s back to helping out at Kyung-mi’s lunchbox store again. Kyung-mi wonders if Seol-ok’s doing fine in her own apartment after moving out from her in-law’s place, and adds that no matter what, Seol-ok had better not get a divorce — just live apart from Ho-chul for a bit and then reconcile later, advises Kyung-mi.
Seol-ok just smiles at her friend’s concern for her, and wonders if she should help Kwang-tae in the kitchen. Kyung-mi puts on an air of nonchalance in response to hearing Kwang-tae’s name, and Seol-ok realizes that something has gone wrong between them; after a little bit of pushing from Seol-ok, Kyung-mi reveals that Kwang-tae drew a line between them, almost as if he were telling her not to get any closer to him.
Seol-ok immediately heads to the kitchen to ask Kwang-tae what’s been going on with the two of them. Kwang-tae tells Seol-ok that Kyung-mi’s the type who’s always been popular with men (Seol-ok has to hold back her laughter at that), given that she’s basically good at doing everything. He explains that he doesn’t want a guy like him, with nothing to his name, to hold her back. Aww.
Grinning, Seol-ok gets up and walks to the entrance to the kitchen, where Kyung-mi has been eavesdropping all along. Seol-ok offers to leave the two of them alone, and Kyung-mi thanks her for having the sense to do so before walking into the kitchen and playfully nudging Kwang-tae on the shoulder.
Later, Kyung-suk makes a call to Seol-ok, checking up on her to making sure she’s still doing well. Kyung-suk complains that Ho-soon is no fun and that she misses Seol-ok. Aww. As Seol-ok is on the phone, Wan-seung drives by in his fancy car, and both miss seeing each other by just a bit.
Seol-ok meets up with Ho-chul at a café and tries to tell him something, but he stops her, asking her not to make her decision yet. Now at the prosecutor’s office in Jeju Island, Ho-chul apologizes for not being a better husband to her by solving her parents’ case when he had the chance to do so.
At CEO Ha’s manor, CEO Ha asks Wan-seung why he returned so quickly from the U.S. when he had said that he was going there to check out the law schools. Wan-seung just says that he looked into business schools instead, and did some traveling for fun.
Suspicious, CEO Ha wonders what his son is up to, but CEO Ha’s secretary later reports that Wan-seung just exercises, goes to work, and networks with Korea’s societal elites. The secretary notes that Wan-seung did buy a few expensive brand-name watches while he was in the U.S., but nothing unusual other than that.
At a fancy bar, Wan-seung explains to his new friends that he didn’t go to the U.S. to look at law schools, but to look for a certain someone. When Ji-won asks who, Wan-seung cockily explains that he found Hyun-soo in the U.S., using the help of private detectives.
Later, in the car with Ji-won, he tells her that Hyun-soo got married and then divorced with a Korean-American that she met in Japan. Wan-seung says that he plans on bringing Hyun-soo back, noting that with the power of Ha & Jung, no one can hurt them now.
Listening in on this conversation is Ji-won’s brother, Lawyer Jung, who had bugged Ji-won’s purse. He’s shocked to hear Hyun-soo’s name, and reports it to Chief Kim, who laughs and tells Lawyer Jung that Hyun-soo is definitely dead. It doesn’t seem like Chief Kim himself is that sure though, considering that he makes a call to Detective Go to ask if Hyun-soo is actually dead.
Detective Go insists that he definitely buried her, and Chief Kim asks who can confirm that, wondering if Detective Go made a slip-up. Later, Detective Go walks into his hideout and stares suspiciously at a suited man nearby — potentially one of Chief Kim’s spies.
At Wan-seung’s apartment, Ji-won asks why he has women’s clothes at his place, and Wan-seung answers that it’s for Hyun-soo. He adds that he even bought a flight ticket for her to come back.
At that moment, Wan-seung gets a call from Detective Go, who demands to know what Wan-seung is doing. Detective Go tells him that he buried Hyun-soo with his own hands, and Wan-seung rejects the notion, recalling that he had carried Hyun-soo to the hospital himself. Wan-seung adds that he saw the security footage of Hyun-soo walking out of the hospital alive.
Detective Go cockily asks if Wan-seung knows why Hyun-soo walked out of the hospital. “It was because of you,” he says sadistically. We see that when Hyun-soo had been left alone in her hospital room, Detective Go had forced her to leave by threatening to fire his pistol at Wan-seung the moment he returned.
Hyun-soo had cried as she silently agreed to follow Detective Go’s orders. As she had walked out of the hospital, she had spotted Wan-seung at the front desk from afar and stared longingly at him before finally leaving.
Hearing the story from Detective Go, Wan-seung just says that he’ll ask Hyun-soo herself for the details when she comes back. Annoyed that his story didn’t grate Wan-seung’s nerves like he expected, Detective Go tells Wan-seung that he knows that Wan-seung is up to something, and he’s not going to fall for it so easily.
When Wan-seung ends the call, Ji-won tells him that she’ll just leave, since he looks a bit busy tonight. As she makes her way home though, she reports everything to CEO Ha, telling him that Wan-seung saw the surveillance footage of Hyun-soo walking out of the hospital on her own two feet.
Chief Kim makes a call to Detective Go again, this time informing the fugitive that once CEO Ha turns his back on Detective Go, then there’s no saving him. As soon as Chief Kim hangs up, CEO Ha walks into his office, and CEO Ha questions Chief Kim’s trustworthiness. It appears that Hyun-soo was in possession of something that both CEO Ha and Chief Kim were after, but they never managed to find it even after she died.
Chief Kim offers to let CEO Ha see Hyun-soo’s dead body with his own two eyes if CEO Ha’s unwilling to trust him anymore, and CEO Ha agrees, making a point that his side will collect the corpse’s DNA to see that it matches Hyun-soo’s.
Wan-seung vigorously goes about his daily morning exercise as usual, but this time, as he makes his way down the stairs, he furtively walks to a building nearby and looks around carefully before going inside. Upon entering, he announces that he’s arrived, and the camera pans over to show Seol-ok sitting at a table, looking at him expectantly. (Aw yeah.)
It turns out that when Wan-seung had been saying his goodbye to Seol-ok, she hadn’t been asleep after all. As he had been about to leave, Seol-ok had weakly called out to him, telling him that there was a way to catch the culprits, even despite the expiry date of the statute of limitations.
While Seol-ok had still been hospitalized, Wan-seung had sneaked into her hospital room disguised as a doctor. Seol-ok had noted how strange it was for Wan-seung to have known that the woman being referred to in her father’s will was Hyun-soo when she had never been mentioned by name in the will. That means that the person who gave him the case file knew more than she let on, and that the murder of Seol-ok’s parents was used to cover up Hyun-soo’s murder — this also means that the statute of limitations no longer applies.
In the present, Seol-ok complains that Wan-seung’s expensive watches are useless when he’s always late anyway, and Wan-seung explains that the surveillance on him has been getting harsher and harsher, which Seol-ok takes to mean that their plan is working. Wan-seung adds that his expensive watches are fakes anyway — he’s been selling the real ones to pay for their new office, ha.
When Joon-oh walks into the meeting room, Wan-seung snaps at him for being late, but Joon-oh retorts that he was the first to come, but that he just went to the bathroom for a bit. Wan-seung then turns his annoyance onto Kwang-tae, who’s been napping behind the whiteboard after a stakeout the previous night. Special Unit Seven is back in commission!
In a previous phone call with Seol-ok, Wan-seung had noted that the person they really needed to catch was the murder instigator and not Detective Go, who was already on the run for Jang Do-jang’s murder anyway.
Seol-ok had asked carefully if Wan-seung would be okay with it since the murder instigator is CEO Ha, and Wan-seung had paused for a bit before switching topics to complain about Seol-ok seeing Ho-chul again. Seol-ok had then complained about Wan-seung meeting up with Ji-won so often, and Wan-seung had teased her for being jealous.
In the present, Seol-ok notes that even though Detective Go is on the run, the other detectives have been covering up for him under the orders of Ha & Jung. The plan is for Wan-seung to continue dropping hints that Hyun-soo’s alive so that everyone involved in the cover-up will get anxious.
They know that Lawyer Jung has fallen for it, given that they bugged his phone and heard his report to Chief Kim. Wan-seung adds that he’s heard quite a few things about this mysterious Chief Kim after networking with the elites — notably that Chief Kim is great at cleaning up messes, but notoriously difficult to get a hold of.
The scene transitions to Chief Kim in his office on another call with Detective Go: Chief Kim asks where Detective Go buried Hyun-soo’s body, but Detective Go refuses to reveal the location and insists on taking Chief Kim there himself.
At the Scooby Unit meeting, Wan-seung gets a text that CEO Ha is on his way to the hospital, and they realize that the only reason for such a healthy person to go to the hospital is to get a DNA test. Seol-ok asks Wan-seung where he’s getting all this information, and Wan-seung grins, saying that he bought Ha & Jung people over to his side using Ha & Jung’s money. Ha.
The Scooby Unit gets ready to leave, and they walk out of the building in slow-motion glory, ready to catch some bad guys. Unfortunately for them, they don’t see Ji-won stepping out from behind a pillar nearby and spying on them from afar — now she knows that Wan-seung’s been scheming with his friends behind CEO Ha’s back.
Joon-oh gets a Chinese food deliveryman to help bug Detective Go’s shoes while the fugitive is resting up. In the meantime, Ji-won meets up with CEO Ha and tries to strike a deal with him using her information on Wan-seung. CEO Ha chides her for being so foolish, reminding her that the car “accident” should’ve made her realize that there’s something bigger than Ha & Jung out there pulling the strings.
Chastened, Ji-won looks away and lets CEO Ha go. Later, she meets with her brother, Lawyer Jung, and this time he plays nice, proposing that they work together to take over Ha & Jung instead of bowing down to CEO Ha all the time. Lawyer Jung asks Ji-won to divulge the information that she has on Wan-seung, but she just tells him that it’s not something he can handle.
At the lunchbox store, Kyung-mi is trying to teach Seol-ok how to cook and threatens to ban her from the kitchen if she gets too creative with the recipe again, ha. When Kyung-mi goes out to attend to a customer, Seol-ok gets a call from Wan-seung that someone’s on the move. Kyung-mi returns to see smoke rising out of an unattended pan and screams aloud to Seol-ok: “You’re banned from the kitchen!”
CEO Ha calls Chief Kim to ask why he suddenly decided that he wasn’t going to come to the site where Hyun-soo was buried. Chief Kim suggests that CEO Ha might suspect him of switching the DNA samples if he were to be at the scene, and CEO Ha accepts the explanation.
Little does CEO Ha know, Chief Kim has an entirely different reason for not showing up — he’s gotten the information about Wan-seung from Ji-won herself. Chief Kim offers her something she wants in return for this information, and Ji-won makes her demand: Ha & Jung.
Seol-ok concernedly asks Wan-seung if he’ll be okay going to the site where Hyun-soo’s body is buried. Though he admits that it’s unlikely for Hyun-soo to still be alive, he wants to personally confirm it himself, and Seol-ok agrees that it would be for the best. Suddenly, she recalls the pan of food that she left simmering on the stove, and clocking her panicked reaction, Wan-seung wonders if she’s getting scared, ha.
At night, CEO Ha makes his way to the spot where Hyun-soo was buried. Pointing to the skeleton that’s been uncovered, Detective Go reiterates to CEO Ha that the girl is definitely dead. CEO Ha just responds that the DNA test results will reveal the truth, and he tells one of Chief Kim’s men that nobody can find out about this.
CEO Ha adds that they’ll be doing DNA tests in addition to Chief Kim’s, and wonders threateningly if their results will correspond. CEO Ha starts to make his way back, when suddenly, Wan-seung and the gang appear out of nowhere.
Detective Go immediately tries to make a run for it, but he’s surrounded by dozens of police officers in no time, and Wan-seung confronts his father. CEO Ha realizes that this was all a trap, and that this is what Ji-won had been trying to tell him earlier in the day. Kwang-tae informs CEO Ha that he’s under arrest, and CEO Ha warns Wan-seung that he’s making a big mistake.
Wan-seung just responds that everyone should pay the price for what they’ve done, and the police take in CEO Ha and his cronies. Later, Wan-seung sits by the burial site and speaks to Hyun-soo, telling her that he kept his promise of finding her.
He spots the couple ring on the skeleton’s finger and tries to keep it together as he recalls their happier days, when he had given her the couple ring and she had kissed him, both of them murmuring I-love-you’s to one another as they kissed. In the present, Seol-ok walks up behind Wan-seung and looks at him pitifully as he cries.
The next day, Chief Kim watches the news about CEO Ha’s arrest. On his table are a number of cellphones, and one of them rings; the caller ID is “Blue,” perhaps for the Blue House?
In jail, CEO Ha tells Wan-seung that he knows nothing about who Hyun-soo really is. Wan-seung presses for more information, wondering if Hyun-soo saw something that she shouldn’t have, and CEO Ha yells that it was all because of Wan-seung.
CEO Ha tells Wan-seung that he only got involved when Wan-seung started looking into her death, because that’s when Wan-seung was putting himself in danger. Wan-seung asks his father why he’s taking the fall when someone else is the puppetmaster, and CEO Ha just tells him that he’ll be out soon enough, adding that Wan-seung has solved nothing by putting him in jail.
At the lunchbox store, Kwang-tae offers to go with Kyung-mi to meet her son, pointing out how much little boys look up to police officers. Kwang-tae leans in close to wipe something off Kyung-mi’s face, and that’s when Seol-ok, with her impeccable timing, walks in.
Kyung-mi jumps away, telling Kwang-tae that Seol-ok’s a bit sensitive these days since she’s been living alone, and Seol-ok denies it. The couple hilariously apologizes again and again for being so lovey-dovey in front of Seol-ok, and she just ignores them as she enters the team’s old meeting room.
Wan-seung’s sitting there, and he tells her that he’s got a new case for her. Seol-ok immediately covers her ears, telling him that she has to study for her upcoming police entrance exam, and Wan-seung tells her that she’s like Sherlock — of course she’ll pass!
Seol-ok worries that she doesn’t know anything about criminal procedure law, and when Wan-seung offers to teach her, she tells him to just go and catch his criminals. He jokingly retorts that he hope she fails the exam as he gets up to leave, and Seol-ok tries to study for about five seconds before her curiosity gets the better of her, and she runs off to find Wan-seung.
Wan-seung tells her that Detective Go was murdered in jail, and that Hyun-soo’s DNA was found to be illegible. Seol-ok comments that the case isn’t over yet, and Wan-seung notes that his senses are tingling again – something smells fishy. “If you have sinned,” says Seol-ok, “then you must pay for it.” Wan-seung smiles in agreement.
A woman in heels walks across a hallway and passes by Chief Kim. She calls out to him, saying that she’s heard he’s been looking for her, and a little frightened, Chief Kim asks who she is. She responds: “It’s me, Hyun-soo. Seo Hyun-soo.”
Meanwhile, Seol-ok and Wan-seung are getting started on their investigation of Detective Go’s murder. Wan-seung asks Seol-ok if she doesn’t need to study for her exam anymore, and she just says she’ll take it next year. The two bicker over whether she’ll be too old by then, but this time, it’s all in good fun.
My feelings are pretty mixed on the ending, given the recent news that the producers are planning for a second season of Mystery Queen. On one hand, a second season is the only acceptable excuse for leaving such a major problem in the drama unsolved, but on the other hand, I wish they had just ended it, because we all know how difficult and rare it is to for Korean dramas to have a second season that actually includes everyone in the original main cast.
Even in the case that the show does get a second season, however, I must say that I began to question a lot of the logic by the end. For example, I never quite understood what reason the “greater forces” could have used to keep Wan-seung stuck in jail if everyone knew that Detective Go was the murderer and that he was even on the run for being a murderer. Ultimately, what got Wan-seung released from jail wasn’t his innocence, but his connections to Ha & Jung and his decision to cave to his father.
Moreover, I was pretty thrown off by how easily Wan-seung and Seol-ok essentially resumed their normal lives by the end of the episode, despite never finding out the masterminds behind the entire plot. It almost seemed as if they were satisfied with just catching Detective Go and CEO Ha; granted, the topic of this shadowy organization was brought up at the end, but the way Wan-seung and Seol-ok were discussing Detective Go’s murder and noting that things have yet to end seemed a bit emotionally removed — as if they were discussing just another case to solve, and not THE case that involved the murders of their loved ones.
Well, just because they feel more detached to the case now doesn’t mean I do, and I want answers! Who is the mysterious Chief Kim? Who are his superiors that are more powerful than even CEO Ha? What is Hyun-soo’s real identity? What was the information that she knew that caused these people to go after her? How did she make it out alive? Why is she back only now? What happened to Ji-won and her brother trying to take over Ha & Jung Law Firm, and did they really join hands? I’m sure these questions were meant to be answered in the second season, but it makes me anxious knowing that the second season is yet to be confirmed.
Also, I was glad that Seol-ok separated from Ho-chul (at least temporarily), while still managing to maintain a good relationship with Kyung-suk, but it seemed a little unfair that Ho-chul got so little flack for his part in the cover-up. All we ever saw was Seol-ok realizing that Ho-chul was unwilling to help her, but we never got to see her finding out exactly how corrupt he was. It’s almost like the show was telling us that it’s enough for Seol-ok to find out about his affair, and his cowardliness — as if the extent of his corruption no longer mattered because she already realized he wasn’t the perfect husband she thought him to be. Forgetting about his role in the cover-up, however, allows Seol-ok to remain friendly with Ho-chul despite their potential divorce — I wonder if she would’ve still been as courteous to him if she had known that he had covered up the murder of her parents.
I also have to say that I’m content to leave Wan-seung and Seol-ok’s relationship at the friendship stage for now. It’s cute how they always joke about Seol-ok falling for Wan-seung’s bad boy charm, but we never really know if it implies something more. I’m happy to have them working together as equals, helping each other out — isn’t it so sweet that Wan-seung even offered to help Seol-ok study for her test? It’s such a 180 from the Wan-seung who used to stop her from investigating and tell her to just go home and cook; now she’s telling him to just go off and catch his criminals. (On a side note though, will he ever find out that Seol-ok doesn’t actually have the PhD that she claimed to have when she first met him?)
Ultimately, Mystery Queen was an enjoyable watch, and I never imagined that mystery and comedy could mix so well together. The show would have me chuckling with laughter at one moment, and then biting my nails in fear at the next moment — when that eerie background music played softly and slowly, we all knew that something baaaaad would happen. I loved the pairing of Seol-ok and Wan-seung, both intelligent and independent workers on their own, but nevertheless, they were also flawed and silly in many situations. While I’m worried this show will never get the ending it deserves if a second season doesn’t come about, I will certainly welcome our detective duo with open arms if the second season does come to fruition.
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